It's a new season and a new coach for Chaminade, but it's hardly a new team.
When the Eagles take the field under Coach Rich Lawson, opponents are likely to think they're facing the same team from last year.
"They must have 20 starters returning," St. Genevieve Coach Lindon Crow said.
Actually, the Eagles have 15 starters back and 20 seniors overall. Because of Chaminade's experience, most league coaches, including Lawson, favor the Eagles to finish first.
And not only are the Eagles experienced, they have good size. Seniors Doug Kavulich (6-3, 230) and Wade Rockwood (6-2, 210) are the brawniest of the bunch on the offensive line.
Senior quarterback Dave Morrison, who passed for 1,211 yards last year, will be throwing to returning receivers Chris Noonan and Dom Costa.
Lawson, however, does have reservations about execution.
"We do some things right, but we're a little rough," he said. "It's going to take a little while. There's some pressure on us because of the players we have. But it's no pressure I can't handle."
He could have coped a lot better had Sean Burwell not transferred to Cleveland.
Burwell rushed for 1,211 yards and averaged 6.7 yards a carry last season as a sophomore tailback. But after violating an undisclosed school rule this summer, he opted for Cleveland rather than face disciplinary action.
"There's no question about it--Cleveland got a real golden egg," Lawson said. "But our team has bounced back from it and solidified. It's in the past."
Tim Lavin (6-1, 200) and John Hreno (5-8, 165) will split time at tailback.
"If we stay healthy, we'll be OK," Lawson said.
Many players, including Kavulich, Rockwood and linemate Bill Mirabelli (5-9, 200), will play both ways, potentially creating a fatigue problem. But no one expects Chaminade to lack depth.
"Oh, man, they're just loaded with players," Harvard Coach Gary Thran said. "And I know Rich. He's going to do a great job in his first year."
Harvard, the defending league champion, must replace Andy Bell, who last season rushed for 1,858 yards, second only to Crespi's Russell White in the Valley area. The Saracens will adopt an old-fashioned, single-wing offense with tailback Marty Holly handling the ball on nearly every play.
"I'll have to go into the archives and see how to defend against the single-wing," Lawson said jokingly.
Lawson isn't the league's only new coach. Tim Salter, in his first season at Cathedral, discarded the Phantoms' single-wing and placed all-league quarterback Javier Lopez in charge of a split-back offense. Pater Noster, which was winless in league last season, will try to climb out of the cellar under first-year Coach Andy Herrera.
As new coaches enter, one departs. Crow will retire at the end of the season after 12 years at St. Genevieve. The Valiants were 4-5 last season, but of those losses, three were by less than seven points. With Crow's players motivated by their coach's retirement, Lawson isn't writing off St.Genevieve.
"They're going to be sky high for every contest," Lawson said. "They're capable of upsetting any quality football team."
Bell-Jeff, under third-year Coach Doug Woodlief, must replace 22 players, including eight defensive starters.